Recently, in a rare moment of clarity, I realised that if I were to be a season I should be ‘autumn’. Even though this is the season in which the weather becomes inclement and the nights draw in, I find autumn both exhilarating and comforting. Example: I have permission to don my waxed jacket again, and pull on wellies for walks. One can wrap up warm and put the heating on. It is a time for cosiness and rich wines and soothing food. If I were allowed to eat more expansively I’d grow very fat during this season on partridge and wood pigeon, marron glacé and rich bramble pies.
Yes, autumn is a special time and November is its final flowering. The light dies early in November and, yet, you still get moments of blazing sun shining off the rich amber of oak leaves. As the wind blows, great piles of fallen leaves are sometimes lifted up to dance.
November is also the time where we both look back and also to look forward. We look back in remembrance – firstly on those who have died and gone to glory (All Souls Day) and then on the War Dead on Remembrance Sunday. This year our Service of Glad Remembrance for all who’ve died is on November 6th at 3pm. I hope that many of you will be able to join us for this occasion. Equally, during this period when we’re remembering the shattering events of the Great War and are also aware that parts of the world are in a complete mess, I hope you’ll be able to make time to be with us on November 13th for our Remembrance Sunday service.
Yet, if November entails remembrance, it also gestures towards hope. On Sunday 27th is Advent Sunday. On that day we enter a period of great anticipation and waiting, as we begin to prepare for the extraordinary joy of Christmas Day. A season both of Light and of Penitence, Advent offers us an opportunity to look forward and reflect on how we can become closer to God. This year I’m excited about the prospect of having a Tuesday afternoon Advent Group to which all at both St Nick’s & St Chad’s are invited, as well as a reciprocal group at St Chad’s on Wednesday evenings. I hope it’s a sign of our emergent closer ties with St Chad’s.
So this November shall be a busy one. In addition to all the church activities, we also have our Christmas Fair. Yet, if we risk being over-busy as we draw to the end of another year, let us also take pause. If there are bright and crisp days this November, I hope each of us can take a moment to wonder and delight at Creation; I hope that as the nights become bleak and wet, we have warmth and good company; and through it all we can face the seasons of Advent and Christmas with hope, expectation and delight.